IPA Paired – Handel wrote music for Chanukah

IPA Paired is a happy hour blog series by the IPA Source office staff – business manager Nora and tech manager Eric. While skillful at keeping IPA Source running well, Nora & Eric have no formal music background, unless you consider their time in high school band.

Nora: Happy Chanukah, Eric! Did you know that Händel produced Chanukah music years after writing his famous Messiah?

Eric: Nearly everyone loves the wonderful music of Messiah, and it’s quite popular at this time of year.

Nora: Since it’s Chanukah, I thought a bottle of Schramsburg Mirabelle Brut Rosé would be a lovely celebratory pairing while listening to Händel’s oratorio, Judas Maccabeus (text by Thomas Morrell).

Eric: I just found an article from Colorado Public Radio about Händel’s Judas Maccabeus.

N: It’s interesting that See The Conquering Hero Comes almost didn’t make it into the oratorio. From the article:

The most popular tune from “Judas Maccabaeus” wasn’t originally included. Händel wrote “See the Conquering Hero Comes” for his next oratorio, “Joshua.” The chorus was such a hit, he decided to capitalize on its popularity. He inserted it into “Judas Maccabaeus” — a more successful oratorio — four years later.

“See the Conquering Hero Comes” inspired composers after Händel. The most famous example is Beethoven’s variations on the tune for cello and piano. The melody was also borrowed in modern times to create a Hannukah song called “Hava Narima,” or “Let’s Lift Up.”

E: Composers re-used or recycled music all the time back in Händel’s day, and still do.

N: I have more about recycled music in our next post.

Looking for more set by Georg Friedrich Händel? We have hundreds of texts set by Händel in our collection.

Whether you spell it Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hannukah or any of the 13 other different ways you will see it spelled, we hope you enjoy Händel’s Judas Maccabeus. Cheers and Happy Chanukah from all of us at IPA Source.